Once again we had lovely conditions for an inhouse mixed friendly that the Harrogate 2 mixed squad arranged. Barry Johnson captained the Bombers with Richard Franks skippering the Fighters.
Mike Triffitt and Louise Beasley are a standing dish together and opened at seed one this evening against Richard Franks and Fiona Chantrey in a clash that promised to be close. There was plenty of good tennis on show and lots of lengthy rallies but well executed winners. With most games reaching deuce this produced a war of attrition and those serving were having to earn their corn!. However it was Triffitt and Beasley who found themselves on the better of the deuce exchanges and surprisingly leading 0-6. However Richard and Fiona were not the unbeaten champions of Harrogate mixed division 5 last season for nothing and they began a comeback. At 1-6 the other two first round matches had finished and with three games left to play the pairs decided to adopt sudden death deuce to quicken proceedings along. By now it was 3-6 and with Richard using his great fitness and energy to conjure plenty of winners following more lengthy play, Mike and Louise were starting to run out of gas. Fiona started to showcase her classy array of shots and despite a back to the walls effort the Bombers couldn’t last the pace and honours were shared at 6-6 after a thriller.
On court two Jonathan Tyler and Christina Plant were making their competitive debut together and what an impressive evening this duo would have. Jonathan will be looking towards the men’s second team and it was easy to see why as he combined a strong serve with some big baseline hitting and looked confident at the net. Christina was enjoying the fast pace and with her lightning quick serve proving difficult for opponents Kevin Duckenfield and Rachel Butterworth, the Bombers were starting to pull clear. Rachel produced a number of beautiful forehand returns out wide whilst Kevin can serve quick and make some nice net winners so this was far from one sided. However the team work was impressive as Plant and Tyler ran out cost 3-9 winners.
Court three saw Dawn and Ollie Steel host Barry Johnson and Helen Robinson who kindly stepped in following a late withdrawal. This proved a very close and keenly fought affair with little between the pairs throughout. Mum and son combination Dawn and Ollie have been showing up well during the summer and continue to blossom and they were making Barry and Helen work hard. Helen used her crafty backhand to great effect as she fashioned plenty of winners but with Dawn chasing everything down and Ollie hitting hard the hosts came close but narrowly lost 5-7.
So 14-22 to the Bombers heading into round two and Richard and Fiona headed down to court three to face Barry and Helen. Despite their lung busting exertions in round one the pair looked fresh as daises here and quickly hit top gear as they played some eye catching tennis. Barry was doing his best to be active around the net and Helen’s groundstrokes kept them in many rallies. But the champions looked determined to claw back the deficit and recorded a well-deserved 9-3 success. Mike and Louise had little time to compose themselves on court one as Kevin and Rachel arrived eager for action. However Louise was on fire in this rubber with her volleys and smashes at the net particularly impressive and the source of many winners. Triffitt was happy to hit deep and pin his opponents back allowing Beasley to showcase her net play skills and Kevin and Rachel were finding it difficult to gain a stranglehold. However Duckenfield is capable of some venomous returns and caught Triffitt out on a couple of occasions whilst Butterworth used the width of the court to ensure points were still going the Fighters way. But not to be denied Mike and Louise took the rubber 3-9
Jonathan and Christina turned up the tempo even higher in this round as they showed no mercy to the Steels with some quite breath-taking tennis. They ran though their whole repertoire gaining in confidence with each passing winner. There was little Dawn and Ollie could do to stem the flow and in all honesty the visiting pair were just sensational and basically unplayable. A 0-12 victory was richly deserved after an error free performance.
With 46 points on the scoreboard victory was in sight as the eagerly awaited clash of the titans between Franks and Chantrey v Plant and Tyler got underway. This proved a tough match for both and the quality on show was excellent. Despite Richards constant retrieval work, he was unable to match the power of Jonathan who cleverly worked his opponents around till the gap was exploited. Christina proved the perfect partner and they continued to impress. Fiona wasn’t throwing the towel in though and with some clever short play kept things close but finally the visitors top dogs ran out 4-8 winners .
Barry and Helen were involved in a close encounter as Kevin and Rachel found their best form of the evening in this very tight rubber. Again plenty of exciting tennis and with little between the pairs it was going to be difficult to call the winner. Eventually the Bombers had the edge winning 5-7.
On the show court no surprise Mike and Louise were last to finish and still playing although the duo were starting to feel the effects of a gruelling evening against the lively Steels. Ollie was serving well and hitting some punishing returns whilst Dawns showed incredible fitness as she covered every inch of the court reaching many seemingly lost causes. With the lights negating Louise’s power at the net she and Mike were always playing catch up although after training 6-3 they won two games on the bounce to take the match into a final decider. However fittingly the Steels were rewarded for a tremendous performance with victory to celebrate a 7-5 success to finish their evening on a high.
The final score saw the Bombers winning 42-66 against the Fighters but another first class evening of tennis and a big thanks to Barry Johnson for organising and all who played.